Cyprus fieldwork notes extracts
At 12.45pm on the 17th of January 2006, I jotted down some graffiti I'd seen in the streets between two suburbs of Nikosia, Akropolis and Strovolos, which included "APOEL", "APOELARA" and "Ultras", on a building with an APOEL sculpture in its grounds (presumably, then, an APOEL building).
"Apoel" is the acronym for and common name of a local football club and "APOELARA", "big APOEL"; the "Ultras", apparently, are the APOEL F.C. football firm/hooligans (and, possibly, far right wing extremists). The graffiti, then, were fans' tags, unless they were playful reactions to the APOEL brand's saturation of the market.
(I saw a website that jokingly offered the service of brand name tagging, though, unfortunately, I can't find it again; nonetheless, I found out through Jake Dobkin's post at Gothamist that Microsoft and HBO have actually bought corporate graffiti in the past and Sony are buying it now.)
When I first saw "88A" on a wall near Makarios Hospital/Medical Centre, I assumed it was some construction or development-based marker, but when I saw it again a few yards down the road and noticed that neither had any points or lines to identify what or where was "88A", I changed my mind and now I think it's probably a writing crew member's tag.
One of the 88As was written over a fading "oxi", "no", which was the popular Greek Cypriot response to the Annan Plan(s) to resolve the Cyprus Problem and which is visible throughout the southern Cypriot landscape.
Sat beside another "oxi" and written in lower-case letters (not the upper-case letters commonly used for graffiti), was the pleasingly enigmatic "ego", "I", which may have been either a writer's tag or a writer's comment upon the practice of tagging.
As one of my Greek language teachers observed as she tried to explain to us the infrequent use of personal pronouns in Greek, "when we speak, we know who we are talking about [because verbs' conjugations are person-specific], so we don't keep saying 'I [ego] do this', 'I do that'; if we keep saying, 'I, I, I, I, I...', it is very egoist[ic]".
The other noted was a piece that read, "i Kypros einai elliniki oxi - oxi", "Cyprus is Greek" refuting the notion of Cypriot identity and "no - no" rejecting the plan for a united, federal, independent Cyprus (and accepting the divided, ethnically cleansed partition of the island into a southern, Greek Cypriot Cyprus and a northern, Turkish Cypriot Cyprus).